Friday, 17 December 2010

Happy Holidays!

2010 is close to its end and the holiday season is upon us. Handmade presents are wrapped (and photographed, but not posted due to potential spoiler danger), bags are packed with winter clothes and pojects are all finished.

I´m not even bringing my knitting - just a sketchbook- as there´s plenty of cooking, baking, wrapping, decorating, meeting friends, being with family... all that waiting for me there!

Happy Holidays everyone, and see you in 2011!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

"We´re in Panama!" #7, the moisture issue, is here!

We´re in Panama! #7

The December issue, dealing with those (bad) mouldy surprises we´ve been having, is here! Download it here, it´s free!

Please leave a comment or send me an e-mail with your stories and photos reading it. It´s always a pleasure to know how you enjoy and explore it! Thank you.

Links to previous issues are right there on the sidebar. Enjoy!

Monday, 6 December 2010

All work and play

Playing with rubber stamps

I think that the best part of my work is that so many times it feels just like play. I´m now working on the December issue of my e-zine but stamping all these words just make them look and feel so much better.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Life in Panama

The other day I was painting away on my balcony. There´s plenty of sea view (I can even see the entrance to the Canal) but there´s also this view:

see our "neighbours"? :)

And as latin as Panama is, everytime I step on the balcony (be it to water my plants or hang clothes to dry), I hear the men working there whistling and shouting comments. This may sound like I´m bragging, but hearing the comments you´d know that I´m not. Just not.

Anyway, so the other day I was painting and I start hearing this guy shouting and shouting, and repeating the same word over and over. Normally I just ignore it as white noise and concentrate on the waves, but this time it surfaced to conscience.

I pause. I look over.

There´s this guy, holding his protective yellow helmet on one hand, waving and shouting: "paint me! paint me!".

I wonder what he´d think if I asked him to model. In the nude.

Anyway, I finished my first canvas here in Panama:

It´s finished!

(...and I really, really need to replace my camera. It will be 6 years old in February.)

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Issue #6 of "We´re in Panama!"

"We´re in Panama!" issue #6, November 2010

November issue of "We´re in Panama!" is now online! As usual, it´s free to download, and you can find it here. Print it out and enjoy it!

I love receiving all your comments and e-mails, so this month I´ll be raising the feedback bar: I´m preparing a presentation about my e-zine and want to include photos of readers - of you. Please send me your images of you, your kids, your friends reading this e-zine, or this e-zine travelling to different parts of the globe. The best images will be included in the presentation!

Oh, I can´t wait!

Enjoy reading it!

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Buenos Aires revisited

Going back to Buenos Aires felt a bit like going home. I needed to get a haircut, to visit my osteopath, buy some buttons (as if there were no buttons in Panama) and go to my favourite restaurants.

Salmon ravioli asian style

Tiraditos in Osaka

I didn´t visit one single museum - but I walked and walked, sat under the blooming jacarandas and took my sketchbook out to draw.

Floralis Generica, Buenos Aires

I had tea with friends, making up for a social life I still don´t have in Panama. I realized, those ties and friendships I created there were thicker and deeper than I had thought.

I saw Christmas decorations (this is end of November, already?) and felt cold, after six months of hot, humid weather. There was cold wind and sleeping with a blanket, hot sun and lots of blooming roses at the Rosedal de Palermo.

Roses at the Rosedal de Palermo

There was the girl in Osaka who recognized us and helped us with an off the menu request - she made me happier than she knows. As if it weren´t enough, I bought myself a good, solid portion of choc-salt cookies. And for once the lack of coins served my purpose: change was given in cookies. Oh, yum!

Choc-salt cookies!

After five days of walking, feeling, experiencing a return to a city where I lived, where I was happy (and unhappy too), where I met so many new friends and met a new me, I came back to my new home in Panama. We´ll see where this ride takes us.

Where Retiro meets Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires

(Guess who came along?

"We´re in Panama!" goes south...

Oh yeah.)

Monday, 22 November 2010

After many, many months...

I´m painting again

...I´m painting again and it feels so good. I missed all the brushes and colours and the freedom they contain in themselves.

Painting makes me happy.

(more photos here)

Friday, 19 November 2010

Just because it´s pretty

Estrelas do mar em Bocas del Toro, Panamá

(photo taken back in October in Bocas del Toro, Panamá. Nice, nice place to visit, but remember to bring mosquito repellent.)

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

A first: azulejos!


Azulejos :: painel

Sometime ago my friend A. asked me to design a panel of portuguese traditional, hand-painted tiles ("azulejos") to match the coat-hanger she wanted to have by the main door in her new flat.

I was thrilled with this project! Not only it was the first time I ever designed an azulejo - I studied lots and lots of designs when I was in university, but unfortunately never got to design my own -, but also because I love, love patterns and that chemistry that happens when you put modules side by side and repeat them.

The brief was to design something that was based in traditional patterns, but with a modern twist. I came up with a design and crossed my fingers. The tiles were brilliantly executed at Azulejaria Santiago, where they were brilliantly hand-painted and later installed in their spot.

I´m thrilled with the result and looking forward to working again with patterns and azulejo!

(Not so much a) sidenote: if you´ve ever been to Lisbon and rode the subway or just wandered around the streets, you´ll know how much azulejo tiles are used in public spaces. One of the greatest panel designers is the living legend Maria Keil, a huge inspiration to me. Check out some of her work by clicking here.

All images by Christophe Sauvage.

Monday, 8 November 2010

So many things

These have been very introspective times here in this studio of mine. I´ve been having loads of work (which I´m thankful for) and am, constantly, searching for more work, creating new projects and presenting new ideas to potential clients.

It´s been busy, busy, and I haven´t felt like posting much. Sorry.

One thing that has been on my mind is the (long overdue) portfolio website redo. Oh dear. I wonder if I´m alone in this, but just thinking about having to change it makes my heart shrink a bit. It´s not that I don´t think it needs to be updated - it´s just that working on something that I can´t control (because I don´t know enough when it comes to web design) and therefore takes me three times longer than it should makes want to jump off my 49th floor balcony. Ok, not so literally, but you get my drift.

Other than that, it´s still kind of weird not to have four seasons, but only two: it´s still pretty much rainy, terribly wet all the time. Not too hot, though, which is fine. It´s almost the end of the year and I don´t feel it around me. No yellow leaves on the floor (as during my northern hemisphere days) nor purple jacaranda trees (as in Buenos Aires), so sometimes I must check the calendar just to be sure. It´s November. It´s chestnut and fireplace time in Portugal.

Anyway, enough about this. Here´s some of the things I managed to do on my breaks from my design projects:

Third attempt at a Christmas present

This is my third attempt at knitting a Christmas present for someone mysterious - can´t say that person´s name as he or she does not know he or she is a recipient of a knitted gift.

The first finished sweater was too small (but too cute to frog); the second one was rightly sized, but not well designed; therefore, frogged.

This is the third go. We´ll see how it goes.


We use cloth napkins at home and needed our stocks refilled, so I bought some native kuna design fabrics (100% cotton, unfortunately not organic) and sewed a pretty simple hemline on them. There´s a learning curve in sewing, people!

And I finally started painting again. This time, there´s no class, no studio, no model, just me, my brushes and the beautiful view from the balcony. We´ll see where that takes us.

What have you been up to lately?

Friday, 15 October 2010

An issue with clouds

An issue with clouds

An issue of "We´re in Panama!", that is! This time around it´s all about the clouds in the sky during this (very) rainy season. Check it out here!

You know how it works: download it, print it, fold it and comment! Or better still: send me a picture of your copy of the zine in the wild!

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Let´s be escapees?

clouds, clouds, clouds

While I draw clouds, clouds and more clouds, I´ve been listening to the wonderful podcast "Escape from Illustration Island" and the interviews its host, Thomas James, conducts.

First of all, let us all thank modern day technology that has me here, sitting alone in my studio, listening to wonderful interviews of people who have been through the same experience as me and also other people who have lots of good information and advice for me.

Then, not only interviewees have interesting testimonials to share, the questions they are asked are very pertinent too. Sometimes it feels like Thomas actually reads minds (or maybe my questions are the same as other people´s?) and asks exactly what I was thinking.

Anyway, this has been an excellent resource for me, specially now that I´ve moved to another country and need to start a new client database here, from scratch.

If you haven´t yet, I encourage you to download "Escape from Illustration Island" now. All in all, very good. Praise to Thomas!

Clouds, clouds, clouds

working on my clouds
Among other projects - in the middle of them, in the little spaces between them - I´ve been working on the October´s issue of my e-zine "We´re in Panama!" (links to previous issue on your right).

It´s amazing how much one project can bring fun and joy to a work´s day!

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Largo do Conde Barão, Lisboa

Largo do Conde Barão, Lisboa

Went to Lisbon for a couple of weeks to visit friends and family and perform (very happily, I may add) my aunt-duties. Among these duties is taking the older niece to her music class, wait, pick her up and drive her back. While I was waiting I went for a walk and stopped to draw this. It´s strangely quiet at that time, maybe because it is one way only and the exiting traffic must go through another street. Beautiful - and very lisbonesque.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Happy sight

I like to catch them in the wildPoor lightning, crappy photo, happy sight.

You can catch them all here.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Home. Finally.


After four and half months of "camping" under a roof, we are now officially at home, with our precious mattress and bed and pillows and bed sheets.

(Rented furniture smells, rented bed linen is polyester-made, rented dishes are ugly. I am grateful that there are companies specializing in temporary furniture rentals, but guys, let´s try to make it look like a home - albeit temporary - and not just a prison cell with smelly wood and baroque details.)


(I talk about the adventure in the last issue of my e-zine. Check it out!)

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Yay! "We´re in Panama"´s issue four is now out!

September issue now out!

As usual, it´s free to download. Print it and fold it and you´re ready to go!

You can send me an email, comment below, or use the tiny facebook button below to share it there; bottom line is: just spread the word!

P.S.: If you´ve missed any of the previous issues, you can find them here: August, July, June.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Some thoughts on north-american design

graphic design and home appliances

Whew, what a grand title this is! I´ve been writing this post in my mind for a long time now, basically since I arrived to Panama and had first-hand contact with american-designed home appliances.

As you might have read on the first issue of my e-zine, my first impression of home appliances was that they´re disproportionate large in size: in Argentina, my washer, a top-loading machine, had a capacity of 5.5kg, which was absolutely perfect for the two of us. I just had to make sure not to put too many towels to wash at the same time, because the effort would make the machine stop and not spin water out. Other than that, it worked just fine, with extra points for low energy consumption.

Here in Panama most of the household appliances we had back in Argentina do not work or will need an adaptor, as electrical current is 110 here, versus the 220 in Argentina (and Europe as well).

So we sold or gave away most of the appliances and now are faced with a totally different reality: big flats, enormous appliances and the close contact of north-american industrial and graphic design.

Apart from the size, one thing that really stands out is the fact that efficiency is not a concern here. Some appliances - the ones prepared to be sold in Canada, apparently - have energy comparison charts displayed; but most do not. Small appliances, as a blender, for instance, have no such thing as energy efficiency information (to be fair, I think that these appliaces are exempt from those charts in Europe too).

Let´s talk about small appliances now: bread-making machine, blender and the likes. They´re mostly large and volumous for their useful area (bread mould or blender jar, for instance). They´re incredibly heavy. The blender? It smells like burnt plastic after 4 seconds of being in use. The toaster gets alarmingly hot on the outside too, risking a burn to the uncautious half-asleep person who operates it in the morning.

Really? A toaster that burns on the outside? Sad, but true.

The large appliances, such as washer, or dryer (why, why, why isn´t the dryer on the same actual machine as the washer? Why do I need the bulk of two gigantic appliances? And why do I need something that takes about 10kg of clothes?) are absolutely not efficient in design or consumption. The large capacity on the top-loading washer means that I almost need to dive into it to rescue those socks that got to the bottom of the pile while washing. And the dryer... why on earth is the dryer a front loading thingie? I have to kneel to save those socks that get in the bottom! Being from the same family as the washer, couldn´t they at least be front or top loading - both of them?

Do not get me started on the fridge, that is as large as my first wardrobe and, in the end, doesn´t fit that much inside.

Finally, to the graphic design part of all of this: it appears that everyone must speak english to operate these machines because not only they have no pictograms whatsoever (for wool or synthetic fibre, or wash-cycle, for instance), they have lots of text. Lots and lots of text. Even the dishwasher, a model very, very similar to the one we had in Argentina, has text here above its little LED illuminated buttons, instead of the pictograms we found back there.

I think there is an explanation to this design-culture-shock: in Europe (and Asia, from my experience), there are many, many limitations for designers when working on both industrial and graphic aspects. Some of them are:

- space and weight constraints: fuel is very expensive in Europe and therefore the cost of transportation must be as little as possible. Housing is expensive too. This means that appliances are as small and light as they can be for their function, so they need to be designed very smartly.

- a market with many languages: this means that all the information conveyed must be expressed in an easy to understand way. Appliances are small, anyway, so there´s no point in describing so profusely all those instructions and danger alerts. Pictograms are used and text is only used when absolutely necessary. You´ll see a danger alert have the word "danger" in more than one language, but other than that, information is given through pictograms.

In face of all this, I can only say - and I know how biased I am by being portuguese - european design is a lot more developed and smarter than north-american one. I know that this is a huge generalization and mean absolutely no offense to anyone who does not share the same view, but I have yet to come to find evidence that convinces me otherwise.

Constraints and limitations are the two main things that drive designers to push farther and work better.

Monday, 30 August 2010

E-zine´s August issue is out!

August issue is out!

To make your monday a sweeter, here´s a link to this month´s issue of the e-zine "We´re in Panama!"

I´m enjoying working on my zine so much, that sometimes find myself thinking about new themes for upcoming issues, about what new materials I want to try or just connecting new and inspiring information I find in everyday and making into a possible zine format. This is fun - a lot of work too, of course, but basically, fun.

What is best about the zine is to receive your comments, so please write to me and tell me what you liked - or didn´t!

To check out previous issues, click here: July, June.
Have fun!

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Still settling down

It feels like this move from Argentina to Panama is taking forever to accomplish. We have been here for almost three months now, but still having this "we're camping" feeling. Our boxes are due out of the port of Buenos Aires today, but no one knows for sure if that ship will sail - and I mean it literally.

Among the new flat related activities, and still without a desk to speak of (or a good internet connection, really), I've been working on this:

They're new designs coming soon to abbrigate*, inspired by the traditional portuguese lover's embroidered handkerchiefs. I think that they are beautiful, even if you can't read the messages. But reading them in all their unorthodox orthography glory certainly adds to the charm.

Speaking of embroidery - now this is a long topic - the Museum of Art and Design in New York has a wonderful book about it, more specifically a catalogue of one of its exhibitions, featuring plenty of interesting artists who use embroidery as a medium. I was a bit disappointed to see that portuguese artist Lourdes Castro wasn't featured, since she was already using embroidery back in the sixties, I believe. (here's a pdf for a more comprehensive outlook on portuguese contemporary art, you can download this pdf; a very succint presentation of artist Lourdes Castro is available here)

The catalogue is, however, a very interesting source of inspiration served as the final push to get hold of the (sewing) needles. It felt, from the beginning, like a whole new world was opening ahead of me and that this was another perfect medium to go on illustrating. I'm in love with it, can you tell?

Just don't ask me to cross-stitch. It's still a taboo after all those years in school, filling enormous surfaces with tiny little crosses. No. Maybe one day, but certainly not now.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Way finding in Panamá

Sinalética no Panamá

There are some things about Panamá that just make this an endearing place. One of those is this set of signs located at the top of the hill that crowns the City, Cerro Ancón, pointing to places of interest in the city. I find this naive charm somewhat irresistible, and, most specially, loveable.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Casco Viejo, Panamá

Plaza Mayor, Casco Antiguo, Panamá

"Hotel Colombia", Casco Antiguo, Panamá

Panama City´s historical centre (or the second historical centre, to be exact) is absolutely beautiful. It´s a mixed neghbourhood, with government houses and cathedrals and then schools and little, badly lit shops which smell like food and humidity. Walking there, there´s so much to see: a balcony here or a window there.

I foresee plenty of early morning drawing expeditions.

More images here.

Friday, 23 July 2010

July issue is now out!

July issue is out!

Just in time for the weekend, the July issue of my zine is now out! Download it here, it´s free! Just print it out front and back and then fold it in half and again in half and you´re set.

I´m looking forward to reading your comments!

In case you missed the June issue, it is available here.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Xaile viajante


Now that I have the photos of the shawl I mentioned the other day, I´m writing a proper post about it.

It´s a mix of the Boneyard and the Travelling Woman Shawls. I needed something easy yet beautiful (emphasis on the Boneyard part) to knit while moving from Buenos Aires and walking around there finishing the last paperwork. Some mindless knitting was also needed for the airplane and some later travels around central and north America.

Moving can be... hmm, very demanding, let´s just put it this way, smile, and carry on.

To finish the shawl i wanted it to have some lacy texture, so I went for the Travelling second part. One repeat of chart A and another one of chart B and the yarn was just enough. With emphasis on the "just".


And now I have a wonderful woollen shawl that is absolutely not needed in the tropical country I now call home.

Raveled here. More photos here.

Went to NYC part XIV

trip to NY XIVThen a short stop in Miami... and I was back home in Panama.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Went to NYC part XIII

trip to NY XIIITook the NJ Transit to Newark. The kind lady who sat next to me told me where to exit.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Went to NYC part XI

trip to NY XIMore goosebumps and some tears at the MoMA. It´s like all the paintings you saw in the history of art books are there.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Went to NYC part X

trip to NY XShakespeare´s "Winter´s Tale" at Delacorte Theater during Shakespeare in the Park summer festival. A NY hit!

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Friday, 16 July 2010

Coming close...

...has a totally new meaning for me:

Xaile viajante

This is the total amount of yarn left from knitting this shawl!

I´ll post more photos of it when I have them. If you want more info in the meantime, here´s its ravelry link.

Happy weekend!

Went to NYC part VIII

trip to NY VIIIHearty meals are easy to find and imperative to fuel the hard working tourist.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Went to NYC part VI

trip to NY VICentral Park and the Upper East Side seen from the Belvedere Castle.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Went to NYC part V

trip to NY VThen I visited the Museum of Arts and Design, which I loved. If you´re a bookworm, do not visit the museum shop! Speaking of shopping, Purl down in Soho offers another huge lot of temptation...

Monday, 12 July 2010

World Cup (knitting) fever

finishing my world cup project

Along with my friends in Argentina (ravelry group here), we ran a World Cup Challenge to accompany the match watching that was predicted. I didn´t watch many, as they were broadcasted at ungodly hours like 6 in the morning, or "totally-at-work-hours", like 9 am.

Still, I managed to finish my challenge (and to draw it too).

Went to NYC part IV

trip to NY IVI felt goosebumps while I was in the museum.